Jeremy Pemberton | Credit: Courtesy

San Luis Obispo authorities issued a felony arrest warrant last month for 34-year-old Jeremy Pemberton, a fast-talking Central Coast entrepreneur and one half of the Pemberton twin team behind Santa Barbara’s infamous West Beach Music Festival that imploded with mismanagement and missed payments to musicians and vendors.

Pemberton is now facing charges of grand theft and sales of securities by false or misleading statements in connection with a failed proposal to build a three-story bowling alley and entertainment center, called Discovery SLO, in downtown San Luis Obispo. According to the criminal complaint, Pemberton defrauded investors Carlos “Xavi” Fajardo and Jacob and Joanne Crawford out of $500,000 and $200,000, respectively, by lying to them about the amount of financing he’d received from other investors and failing to disclose a default on his lease. The Crawfords are in their late eighties and described in court documents as “dependent adults”; Pemberton has also been charged with financial elder abuse.

Pemberton, whose address is listed as a post office box in Shell Beach, remains a wanted man. San Luis Obispo County Jail logs show he has not been booked since the arrest warrant was issued, though he continues to post on Facebook, mainly about the coronavirus pandemic. If convicted of all charges, he would face a maximum sentence of 16 years and four months in prison.

Jeremy Pemberton and his brother Joshua filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy after their event company, Twiin Productions, put on the last unprofitable West Beach Music Festival in 2010 and left dozens of creditors and partners holding the bag. A trail of bad blood and messy lawsuits followed them out of town. The brothers grew up in Milpitas and studied at both Santa Barbara City College and UC Santa Barbara.

Though construction had already begun, the Discovery SLO project was abandoned in June 2018 after a falling-out between Pemberton and the building’s owner over $750,000 in missed rent payments. Pemberton was also accused of failing to pay his employees at a SLO tapas restaurant called Branzino, which he opened in March 2019 and abruptly closed that August.

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